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SALVATION ARMY v. ALLEGHENY COUNTY (05/21/51)

May 21, 1951

SALVATION ARMY
v.
ALLEGHENY COUNTY, APPELLANT



Appeals, Nos. 7 to 12, inclusive, March T., 1951, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, April T., 1949, in Equity, No. 39, in case of The Incorporated Trustees of the Salvation Army in Pennsylvania v. County of Allegheny, City of Pittsburgh et al. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Edward G. Bothwell, First Assistant County Solicitor, with him Nathaniel K. Beck, County Solicitor, Anne X. Alpern, City Solicitor, Bennett Rodgers, First Assistant City Solicitor, Mortimer B. Lesher, School Solicitor and Oscar G. Peterson, Assistant School Solicitor, for appellants.

William H. Eckert, with him George M. Swan, Smith, Buchanan & Ingersoll and Alter, Wright & & Barron, for appellee.

Before Drew, C.j., Stern, Stearne, Bell, Ladner and Chidsey, JJ.

Author: Drew

[ 367 Pa. Page 374]

OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE DREW

The Incorporated Trustees of the Salvation Army in Pennsylvania, plaintiff, brought this bill in equity to have certain real estate owned by it adjudged tax exempt as a charity and to enjoin defendants, the

[ 367 Pa. Page 375]

County of Allegheny, the City of Pittsburgh, and the School District of the City of Pittsburgh, from levying and collecting taxes on that property. The learned court below granted the relief prayed for and these appeals followed.

Plaintiff is a non-profit corporation organized and existing under the laws of this Commonwealth and admittedly is an institution of benevolence and charity. The property, which is the subject-matter of this action, is owned by plaintiff and is located at the corner of the Boulevard of the Allies and Cherry Way in the City of Pittsburgh. Upon this property is erected a steel and brick building, in part eight and in part nine stories high. The basement of this building contains a swimming pool, a gymnasium, locker room, boiler room and storage spaces. The first three floors have been set aside for the Pittsburgh offices of the Salvation Army and for the auditoriums, classrooms, workshops and other such rooms needed for the work of that organization. On the fourth to the eighth floors the Salvation Army maintains its "Evangeline Residence", consisting of 229 sleeping rooms, a dining room which is operated exclusively for the residents of the building and the officers of the Salvation Army, a lounge and other rooms. A laundry is maintained on the ninth floor for the convenience of the occupants of the Residence, and the remaining space on that floor is devoted to the modest living quarters of a Salvation Army officer. On the theory that the "Evangeline Residence" constitutes a commercial use of that part of the building occupied by it, the Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review assessed the entire property at fifty per centum of its value, and defendants levied taxes on the property at that assessed value. The learned court below enjoined the collection of these taxes on the ground that the Residence was a charity and, therefore, tax exempt under Section 204 of the General

[ 367 Pa. Page 376]

County Assessment Law, the Act of May 22, 1933, P.L. 853, as amended by the Act of May 3, 1943, P.L. 158*fn1

The sole question raised is whether the Residence is a purely public charity and thereby that portion of plaintiff's building occupied by its exempted, as is the remainder of the property, from taxation under the Act of 1933, as amended. The test for resolving that issue is laid down in Y.M.C.A. of Germantown v. Phila., 323 Pa. 401, 409, 187 A. 204, where we said: "In all our decisions on this subject there can be discerned as a prerequisite to the taxation exemption of an institution claiming to be benevolent or charitable that it, or the portion of its property, in respect to which exemption is claimed, must possess an eleemosynary characteristic not possessed by institutions or property devoted to private gain or profit. What is 'given' must be more ...


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